Thursday, 21 January 2016

Recent reads (#1)

Hello! Here are some of the books I recently finished reading, and some quick thoughts on them:

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard 
- I loved the friendship between Safiya and Iseult.
- I didn't care for the romance between Safiya and *highlight to read spoiler* Merik. It was too...obvious?
- I probably shouldn't, but I ship Iseult and *highlight to read spoiler* Aeduan. Every time they were in a scene together I was all *_*.
- My favourite out of the two leading ladies is Iseult.
- I like how it was action packed from the start.
- The world was interesting, but the actual world building was shaky.
- Aeduan was such a complex and layered character, I hope we learn more about him in the sequel.

Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
I love Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, so I've been wanting to try something by her sister, Anne Bronte, and Agnes Grey appealed to me more than The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Overall, I really enjoyed it!


The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
I love Alison Goodman's Eon duology, it's one of my all time favourite series' ever. So, I was super excited about reading this, and it did not disappoint! It was a bit slow going, but that didn't bother me as I was so immersed in the story and characters.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Remembrance by Meg Cabot

All Susannah Simon wants is to make a good impression at her first job since graduating from college (and since becoming engaged to Dr. Jesse de Silva).

But when she’s hired as a guidance counselor at her alma mater, she stumbles across a decade-old murder, and soon ancient history isn’t all that’s coming back to haunt her. Old ghosts as well as new ones are coming out of the woodwork, some to test her, some to vex her, and it isn’t only because she’s a mediator, gifted with second sight.

From a sophomore haunted by the murderous specter of a child, to ghosts of a very different kind—including Paul Slater, Suze’s ex, who shows up to make a bargain Suze is certain must have come from the Devil himself—Suze isn’t sure she’ll make it through the semester, let alone to her wedding night.

Suze is used to striking first and asking questions later. But what happens when ghosts from her past—including one she found nearly impossible to resist—strike first?

What happens when old ghosts come back to haunt you?

If you’re a mediator, you might have to kick a little butt.


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Expected publication date: 02/02/16 

Having read quite a few of Meg Cabot's books I can say without a doubt that The Mediator series is easily my favourite YA series by her. I remember checking out the books from my local library when I was younger and really enjoying them. More recently I had a craving to re-read the series so I did just that. Then last year having tracked down the series with the covers I liked I finally bought it and I re-read it again because it's such a fun, feel good series. So, being such a big fan I was super pumped to find out that there was to be a 7th adult installment!

Empowered female mc. In Remembrance Suze is in her 20's and is still attending her old high - but not as a student, she is now working her way up to becoming a guidance councilor. She is as sassy as ever, and having recently watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer I have to admit that in some ways she reminds me of Buffy - they're both empowered, kick-butt females who I adore. What's more is that I love how confident she is in herself and her appearance, without being obnoxious about. It's refreshing to see a character who doesn't think she's plain, etc (don't get me wrong I like seeing all types of mc's, be it plain or pretty, but a confident one is one I just don't see often enough). Suze owns it, and she isn't afraid to curse either. I also like how in this book we see a more vulnerable side to her.

Romance. Jesse and Suze are faced with some obstacles in Remembrance, and it was nice seeing them work through it. The swoons and banter was on point, and I think it's awesome how both of their career paths involve helping people in some way.

Girl power. Here I thought I'd share some quotes that really resonated with me. 1. "You're not like other girls," Didn't he realise that wasn't a compliment. There's nothing wrong with being like other girls. (Quote taken from e-arc, may be subject to change). Can I get a hell-to-the-yes?! I have seen this used as a compliment by love interests in books and it frustrates me so much, because like Suze said there is absolutely nothing wrong with being like other girls! 2. "She was never yours to give, Slater," Jesse hissed. "Nor is she mine. women aren't horses, they don't belong to one man or another,". (*Quote taken from e-arc, may be subject to change).  Oh, Jesse, why can't you be real?! *swoon* 

Fun plot and colourful cast of characters.  As with all the The Mediator books there's a mystery to be solved, a trouble making ghost, oh and to add something new to the mix: Paul is back! As usual I enjoyed reading about Suze and all the shenanigans she got into. As well as meeting some new characters we are re-united with characters from the previous books and it was great seeing what they were all up to. On another note Cabot does a great job of including diverse characters in the Princess Diaries and it's the same with Remembrance. Her best friend is a POC, *highlight to read spoiler* one of her brothers is LGBT, and her boyfriend is Hispanic. Yay for diversity!

All in all, Remembrance was a fun read full of swoons, shocks, and laughs. I really hope that one day I can visit California, specifically Carmel as it sounds like an amazing place.

Rating:

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Favourite books of 2015

These are the books I found hard to put down!

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

"You are an ember in the ashes, Elias Veturius. You will spark and burn, ravage and destroy. You cannot change it. You cannot stop it."

Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman 


"Weakness, he has learned, isn't in the arm or the leg or the back. Weakness is in the mind."

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

"I will have you without armor, Kaz Brekker. Or I will not have you at all."


Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff


"Am I not merciful?"

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith 

"You could find beauty nearly anywhere if you stopped to look for it, but the battle to get through the days made it easy to forget that this totally cost-free luxury existed."
Winter by Marissa Meyer

"See that eye roll? It translates to, ‘How am I possibly keeping my hands off of you, Captain?"

Night Study by Maria V Snyder


Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Sword and Verse by Kathy Macmillan

GoodReads: Raisa was just a child when she was sold to work as a slave in the kingdom of Qilara. Despite her young age, her father was teaching her to read and write, grooming her to take his place as a Learned One. In Qilara, the Arnathim, like Raisa, are the lowest class, and literacy is a capital offense. What’s more, only the king, prince, tutor, and tutor-in-training are allowed to learn the very highest order language, the language of the gods. So when the tutor-in-training is executed for teaching slaves this sacred language, and Raisa is selected to replace her, Raisa knows any slipup on her part could mean death.

Keeping her secret is hard enough, but the romance that’s been growing between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slave rebels—to help liberate Arnath slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries—one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.

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Expected publication date: 19/01/16

Sword and Verse was one of my most anticipated Winter 2016 titles from Harper, so it's a shame that I didn't end up enjoying it.  

The book opens on a good note, I was intrigued and I liked the little pieces of information we are given about the gods at the beginning of each chapter.  But then comes along the romance, which in my opinion is one of the greatest downfalls of this book. It developed far too quickly - at only 20% there was a deceleration of love and not too long after they actually make love. This kind of romance does not work for me at all, I prefer a slow burn because I want to be rooting for the characters to get together, I want to feel that tension, y'know? When it happens too fast the flame goes out quickly. You could argue that because it's a standalone things had to be a bit rushed, but I have to disagree. I have read standalone books before with well paced romances, for example: The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters, Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn, Suite Dreams by Rachel Hawthorne - I could go on.  For me it's all about the build up and tension, about the two characters getting to know each other. 

Then there's the characters. Raisa was likable enough (except when she was thinking about Mati, then I wanted to shake her and tbh this was most of the time), and Mati was so boring - he was a bland cardboard cutout of a good guy. Some elements of the story were interesting, but that alone was not enough to hold my interest. I think this book could have been a whole lot better if the romance had been slowed down and the main characters, Raisa and Mati, had been more fleshed out and complex.

Rating:

Friday, 27 November 2015

Night Study by Maria V Snyder

GoodReads: Ever since being kidnapped from the Illiais Jungle as a child, Yelena Zaltana's has been fraught with peril. But the recent loss of her Soulfinding abilities has endangered her more than ever before. As she desperately searches for a way to reclaim her magic, her enemies are closing in, and neither Ixia nor Sitia are safe for her anymore. Especially since the growing discord between the two countries and the possibility of a war threatens everything Yelena holds dear.

Valek is determined to protect Yelena, but he's quickly running out of options. The Commander suspects that his loyalties are divided, and he's been keeping secrets from Valek...secrets that put him, Yelena and all their friends in terrible danger. As they uncover the various layers of the Commander's mysterious plans, they realize it's far more sinister that they could have ever imagined.

- Add to GoodReads
Exptected publication date: 26/01/16

Night Study picks up exactly where Shadow Study left off, and I have to admit that although I enjoyed the previous book, Night Study, had me captured from beginning to end. There was so much excitement and twists and turns I did not see coming. Every chapter ended on a sort of cliffhanger as something new came to light or something unexpected happened - if the phrase 'just one more chapter' ever came to mind it was when I was reading this book.

In my review of the previous book, Shadow Study, I complained that as much as I thought Valek and Yelena were strong and awesome on their own I would love to see them working together more - like they did in Poison Study, because in the following books they're only together for a short while then re-united towards the end.  However, I was super pleased because in this book they started of together and remained so for the first 40% of the book.

Told from Yelena, Valek, and Leif's POV Shadow Study focuses on Yelena and the gang's hunt for Owen Moon & co. In addition to this there is another plot thread that is equally as exciting, but I won't mention it here as it's a spoiler. The action and adventure coupled with the colourful cast of characters with their usual banter and bickering made for a thrilling read - from Leif and Devlen to Yelena, Valek, Janco and Ari - these characters are hard not to love. Not forgetting secondary characters, either like Fisk, who is a really interesting guy. I'm kind of hoping that Snyder writes a book centered around him and his Guild of Helpers in the future as I think it would be really cool.

Valek and Yelena go through a lot in this book - Yelena has to learn to cope without her magic and Valek learns a lot about himself and his past, and you can see the small changes and influence Yelena has had on him. As for Yelena herself she is kick-butt as usual, and I love her selflessness and need to save everyone.

Finally, onto the romance: The level of swoons in this one is of the scales, guys.  The number of times I happy sighed through out the book I don't even know, Valek and Yelena are such a wonderful power couple. Although I have to confess and say I wouldn't have minded if the romantic scenes were extended as opposed to fading to black *cough* just sayin'...

Overall, this was a brilliant sequel and I cannot wait to see how Snyder wraps it all up in the final book in the trilogy/series, Dawn Study.

Rating:

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Mini review: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

GoodReads: In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

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Expected publication date: 04/02/16

I enjoy YA historical fiction and having really liked Sepetys previous two books: Between Shades of Grey and Out of the Easy (probably my fave out of the two) I was pumped to hear that she was working on a new book. 

Salt to the Sea takes place during World War II, more specifically a couple of years after Germany's invasion of Russia. In East Prussia World War II is actually coming to a close and among thousands of refugees on a desperate journey towards freedom are are three main characters: Emilia, Joana and Florian. The POV changes very quickly between them and although some people might be put of by the idea of this I say give it a chance, because in my opinion it's done really well.

Emilia, Joana and Florian are all hiding something, all carrying burdens that threaten to drown them, but when their paths cross on route to Wilhelm Gustloff -the ship that offers them a chance of freedom- their pasts and backgrounds are slowly revealed. When tragedy strikes on board the ship, despite their different backgrounds, they are forced to unite and depend one another as they fight for survival and edge closer to safety.  
  
Salt to the Sea is essentially a story about survival. Sepetys does not hold back or sugar coat things, she paints a grim picture that truly opens your eyes to the horrors of the war. My heart broke for the three main characters and what they had to endure. I easily found myself rooting for them, hoping desperately that they would make it to safety and survive. It wasn't all darkness, though, with the dark came great moments of light. During a time of chaos and death, humanity's ability to find good among the bad did not fail to prevail.

Overall, Salt to the Sea is a gripping and emotional read that I'm sure fans of YA historical fiction will devour.

Rating:

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Mini review: Harry Potter: The Character Vault by Jody Revenson

GoodReads: Unlock new information about your favourite characters from the Harry Potter movies with this definitive coffeetable book profiling the good, the bad, and everything in between within the Harry Potter universe. Dive into the personal journeys of beloved Harry Potter heroes, and an insightful look at the motivations and actions of the films’ most notorious and complicated villains.

Concept art, behind-the-scenes imagery, and film stills track everyone from Harry, Hermione, and Ron to Dobby, Mad-Eye Moody, and Dolores Umbridge, telling their complete stories as they evolve throughout the film series. A comprehensive collection of the movies’ beloved characters, this beautifully designed book is the ultimate Harry Potter character overview. 


- Add to GoodReads
Source: Titan Books

The third in a series by Jody Revenson, 'Harry Potter: The Character Vault' is a great addition to any Potter fan's collection. It's a beautifully illustrated book that you can easily dip in and out of.

The book is split into different sections, for examples there's: Hogwarts students, members of the Order of the Phoenix, Hogwarts staff, etc. For each character you're given what I found to be interesting info such as how the actors came to audition/play the part they did. You're also told about how they came up with costumes/wardrobe designs, which again, I thought was fascinating. Coupled with this there are beautiful illustrations and photographs scattered throughout the book. I also love that at the back of the book there are two pull out posters - one featuring members of the Dark Force and the other featuring members of the Order of the Phoenix.

Overall, it's a stunning book which every time I pick up makes me want to re-read the series and re-watch the movies!


 Rating:

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